DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 2nd: CAN YOU SUM-UP THE DAY? "We started in the back because of the (rules) infraction in qualifying and had a pit stall that was way down pit road. We had an early caution and...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 2nd:
CAN YOU SUM-UP THE DAY? "We started in the back because of the (rules) infraction in qualifying and had a pit stall that was way down pit road. We had an early caution and came down pit road. A lot of guys gassed and nothing else and pulled out in front of a bunch of us coming on to pit road and a bunch of guys checked up and I ran into the back of somebody and tore my car up pretty bad. We lost a lap when I lost the draft."
"We just got lucky. I came up behind Michael (Waltrip) and pushed him. I hit him pretty hard and he turned sideways and turned the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) down across the track. The caution came out so I got my lap back. I was just trying to stay in front of whoever was a lap down behind me and ended up causing that problem a little bit - that was kind of my fault. I was expecting Michael to kind of hang onto it but he didn't do too good a job. We just raced after that. It was hard. I ran into people. People ran into me. Some of them held onto it and some of them didn't.
"Coming out of the back straightaway I moved over and apparently the No. 38 (Elliott Sadler) was coming up the middle there and he went down into the bottom lane and turned himself and I kind of spooked him there so I feel a little responsible for that (crash)."
"It was a rowdy day. I feel real lucky to finish second in the race. I would have liked to win, but Michael knows most of my tricks. He's seen them either behind him or in front of him one time or another over the last three or four years. Plus, I really didn't have much behind me that was going to work with me. Tony (Stewart) didn't come there until the last lap. Jeff Gordon and I are buddies, but we're not drafting partners. So we don't draft together too much. We always try to pass each other. We're competitive. So I finished second. We have a lot to be proud of. We had a tough day. It would have been nice to win but DEI won anyway and that's cool."
WHAT'S YOUR IMPRESSION OF WHAT HAPPENED ON PIT ROAD WITH THE NO. 43 DRIVEN BY JEFF GREEN? "I don't know what you could attribute it to when a car that has pitted pulls out in front of a few cars that are still coming down pit road. He pulled out all the way to the outside instead of pulling out to the middle where we normally pull out because you don't know who is coming or what's going on. He just came to the outside, and everybody that was there had to stop. With the new rules all the drivers are confused and screwed up and we're coming down pit road like a bunch of idiots - like we've never done it before."
"So I'm kind of disappointed. I feel like the pit stall we picked was a big factor in that because it was way on the other end of pit road. If I'm starting in the back, I ought to have a pit stall earlier on pit road. I feel like some of the problems I had today were because of the pit stall I had. So that was our fault."
"The small fuel cells allow guys to come on pit road, get gas, and take off and not worry about tires because you haven't run but 30 laps. So that's why a lot of guys are just gassing and going and that causes a lot of problems on pit road. And the rule that we've all got to be in single file coming down pit road caused it. I was really upset the whole time I was in the car because of it. And I couldn't figure out what would be the one thing to point the finger at. It was just frustrating. I don't like the new rules."
HOW DID THE CHANGES YOUR CREW MADE IN THE CAR - THE SEAT AND EXTRA PADDING - HELP YOU TODAY? "I did change all my headrests and I've got to get used to that. It's definitely different. But I was fine."
ON THE RULE CHANGES FOR TALLADEGA AND ON HIS INVOLVEMENT IN JIMMIE JOHNSON'S ACCIDENT "You've got the bigger blade so there's a larger hole for the guy behind you in the draft and you get quicker, faster runs. I got a good hard run by Michael and hit him by the flag stand. Both of us were going straight.
"Typically when you do that - I probably did it maybe 45, 50, or 60 times today - you normally don't have a problem. But it just caught Michael's car and turned him sideways. And the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was trying to draft off of the side of him. He was really close. They were about to hit tires. Michael just knocked the heck out of him and sent him on down the race track. It was kind of funny, but I'm glad he didn't hit anything. It was comical because he was trying to draft on the side of Michael and he was asking for trouble in my opinion. He's asking for trouble. That was kind of stupid to be running that close to him. If you got passed for the lead, you just get passed and get on in second and just try to pass him back. But I'm glad he didn't hit anything. I would have been bothered if he had gotten taken out of the race. They had such a good car."
WERE YOUR SURPRISED TO RUN SO WELL ON THE OUTSIDE? "The middle came into play early in the race. The people just shut the middle down and stopped allowing cars to get into the middle. It was just frustrating. The bottom wasn't good. If you weren't leading, the bottom was no good. If you were in the middle in the top, you were just kind of in a battle the whole time - beating and carrying on turning people and getting run into. So it was whatever you want to do. It seemed like guys like Mark Martin were in the bottom lane and guys like myself were in the top lane. It just depends on what kind of racing you want to do."
IF YOU HAD JUMPED OUT, JEFF GORDON WOULD HAVE POSSIBLY GONE WITH YOU. IS YOUR LOYALTY SO GREAT TO DEI THAT YOU WOULD GIVE UP A CHANCE TO WIN? "I didn't give up anything. Believe me, I was looking for every opportunity to pass Michael. But I wasn't going to make a move unless I was sure I would be able to get by him. We worked real hard to get to that point. It was either first or second. I knew I could get second. If I knew the push that I was getting would send me past him, then I would have made that move. But I really never got a push that I could even pull up beside him."
"The guys behind me were moving around quite a bit. I was hoping the No. 22 (Ward Burton) would stay where he was, but he kind of got passed there. I was not in a very good spot. I would have rather been leading I guess."
ON THE RADIO, YOU WERE PRETTY ROUGH ON YOUR CREW TODAY. WILL THAT BE SMOOTHED OUT? "I'm always rough with them. I expect 100%. I feel like due to our sponsorship and our program and the prestige that they get lackadaisical. I don't want them to relax. I want them to be on edge and 110% and wide-open all day long. Sometimes they don't seem like they're in the game and I've got to shout at them. And they can do the same to me. It's a lot of fun and we're getting really good results out of it."